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Services exports rises 5.9% in February 2017
Apr 13,2017

As per the data released by the reserve bank of India, Indias services exports increased 5.9% to US$ 13.06 billion in February 2017 over February 2016. Meanwhile, Indias services imports rose mere 0.6% to US$ 7.24 billion in February 2017. Indias services trade surplus improved 13.3% to US$ 5.83 billion in February 2017 from US$ 5.14 billion in February 2016.

Indias services trade surplus fell 8.0% to US$ 59.30 billion in April-February fy2017 over a year ago, with 12.1% rise in services imports to US$ 87.20 billion. Indias services exports rose mere 3.0% to US$ 146.50 billion in April-February 2017.

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Exports jumps 27.6% in March 2017
Apr 13,2017

Indias merchandise exports increased at 65-month high pace of 27.6% to US$ 29.23 billion in March 2017 over a year ago. Meanwhile, merchandise imports jumped 45.3% to US$ 39.67 billion. The trade deficit more than doubled to US$ 10.44 billion in March 2017 from US$ 4.40 billion in March 2016.

Oil imports zoomed 101.4% to US$ 9.71 billion, while the non-oil imports also gained 33.2% to US$ 29.96 billion in March 2017 over March 2016. The share of oil imports in total imports was 24.5% in March 2017, compared with 17.7% in March 2016. Indias basket of crude oil surged 41.3% to US$ 51.47 per barrel in March 2017 over March 2016.

Among the non-oil imports, the major contributors to the overall rise in imports were gold imports rising 329.2% to US$ 4.18 billion, electronic goods 32.1% to US$ 4.84 billion, pearls, precious & semi-precious stones 56.7% to US$ 3.01 billion, coal, coke & briquettes etc 76.9% to US$ 1.72 billion, organic & inorganic chemicals 24.9% to US$ 1.58 billion, machinery, electrical & non-electrical 13.5% to US$ 2.61 billion, vegetable oil 28.1% to US$ 1.06 billion and artificial resins, plastic materials 13.0% to US$ 1.08 billion. The imports also improved for pulses by 52.9% to US$ 0.32 billion, non-ferrous metals 13.2% to US$ 0.87 billion, machine tools 40.5% to US$ 0.33 billion, metaliferrous ores & other minerals 26.3% to US$ 0.44 billion and chemical material & products 19.6% to US$ 0.50 billion.

On the other hand, the imports have declined for transport equipment by 36.4% to US$ 1.06 billion, iron & steel 15.6% to US$ 0.97 billion, fertilisers, crude & manufactured 17.1% to US$ 0.17 billion, wood & wood products 3.4% to US$ 0.39 billion and silver 3.2% to US$ 0.20 billion in March 2017.

On exports front, the engineering goods recorded an increase in exports by 46.7% to US$ 7.84 billion, followed by gems & jewellery 12.5% to US$ 4.11 billion, petroleum products 69.1% to US$ 3.70 billion, RMG of all textiles 20.3% to US$ 1.81 billion, drugs & pharmaceuticals 5.5% to US$ 1.62 billion, organic & inorganic chemicals 15.4% to US$ 1.50 billion, cotton yarn/fabrics/made-ups, handloom products etc 5.3% to US$ 0.89 billion, and rice 34.2% to US$ 0.64 billion. The exports also moved up for electronic goods by 5.0% to US$ 0.62 billion, plastic & linoleum 19.1% to US$ 0.57 billion, marine products 42.7% to US$ 0.51 billion, spices 79.2% to US$ 0.49 billion and man-made yarn/fabrics/made-ups etc 13.6% to US$ 0.43 billion in March 2017.

However, the exports declined for, fruits & vegetables by 3.2% to US$ 0.27 billion, cereal preparations & miscellaneous processed items 4.1% to US$ 0.12 billion, tobacco 15.9% to US$ 0.09 billion in March 2017.

Merchandise exports in rupees increased 25.4% to Rs 192571 crore, while imports moved up 42.8% to Rs 261328 crore in March 2017 over March 2016. The trade deficit widened to Rs 68757 crore in March 2017 compared with Rs 29480 crore in March 2016.

Indias merchandise exports rose 4.8% to US$ 274.65 billion, while merchandise import was nearly flat at US$ 380.37 billion in April-March 2017. The oil imports increased 4.3% to US$ 86.46 billion. Indias merchandise trade deficit declined to US$ 105.72 billion in April-March 2017 from US$ 118.05 billion in April-March 2016.

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Cabinet approves listing of 11 CPSEs on stock exchanges
Apr 13,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for listing of the following 11 CPSEs (Central Public Sector Enterprises) on stock exchanges:

1. Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL)

2. IRCON International

3. Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC)

4. Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC)

5. RITES

6. Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL)

7. Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE)

8. Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDSL)

9. North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO)

10. MSTC

11. Mishra Dhatu Nigam (MIDHANI)

As approved, listing of CPSEs will be through public offer of shares upto 25% of Government of Indias shareholding, which may include offer of fresh shares for raising of resources from market. However, actual disinvestment in respect of each CPSE alongwith the mode of raising resources has been delegated for decision on a case to case basis to the Alternative Mechanism, headed by the Finance Minister.

The CCEA has also approved reservation of shares for the eligible employees of 11 CPSEs in accordance with the extant provisions of SEBI Regulations.

With a view to ensure wider participation by small investors in the CPSEs disinvestment program, a price discount upto 5% on the issue price has also been approved for the retail investors and eligible employees of 11 CPSEs participating in this offer.

From the economic and sectoral perspective, the decision to list 11 CPSEs on stock exchanges through public offer will have the following advantages for to the stakeholders:

i. Post-listing, value of a CPSE has the potential to be unlocked in multiples of book value of its equity with respective increase in their market capitalization. Once the book value of 11 CPSEs is discovered through the listing process, it will facilitate raising of resources by these companies at comparable cost and hence, achieve higher growth through their expansion/diversification. This will also be reflected in the performance at the sectoral level and overall economic growth.

ii. Listing of CPSEs will also promote people ownership by encouraging public participation in CPSEs. Reservation of shares not exceeding 5% of the post-issue capital for the eligible employees of 11 CPSEs, with the further decision to allocate shares to retail investors and employees of CPSEs at a price discount will ensure wider participation of small investors in the CPSEs disinvestment program.

iii. Listing of profitable CPSEs on the stock exchanges also triggers multilayered oversight mechanism, which not only enhances shareholders value but also promotes corporate governance norms in such companies. As per the listing requirements of SEBI/ Company Law/Stock Exchanges, CPSEs are required to comply with a number of mandatory disclosure requirements.

iv. With general public becoming the shareholder in the company through the listing route, the management is open to public scrutiny and thus become more accountable to its shareholders, as per the extant disclosure norms and compliance for listed CPSEs.

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Cabinet approves 9.4% hike in raw jute MSP for 2017-18 season
Apr 12,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for the increase in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for raw Jute for 2017-18 season in order to protect the economic interests of the farmers.

The CCEA has increased the MSP to a level of Rs 3500 per quintal for 2017-18 season which indicates an increase of Rs 300 (9.4%) over the previous year. During last three years (2015-16, 2016-17 & 2017-18), Government has increased the MSP for jute from Rs 2700/- to Rs 3500/- (29.6%) as compared to increase from Rs 2200/- to Rs 2400/- (9.1%) in the preceding three years (2012-13, 2013-14 & 2014-15).

Jute is mainly used as raw material for Packaging Industry. The increase in MSP would benefit the Jute industry which supports the livelihood of around 40 lakh farm families and provides direct employment to 3.7 lakh workers in organised mills and in diversified units including tertiary sector and allied activities. These farm families are mainly concentrated in the States of West Bengal, Bihar and Assam which account for over 95% of the area as well as jute production in the country.

New varieties of jute viz., JRO-204, JBO-2003, JRS-517, JRC-532 and JRO-2407 are being promoted by providing support for seeds production under National Food Security Mission (NFSM)-Commercial Crops. National Seeds Corporation Limited has entered into agreement for promotion of new varieties of jute seeds in the jute growing states.

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Cabinet approves implementation of Supreme Courts Judgment regarding Target Plus Scheme (TPS)
Apr 12,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the implementation of Supreme Courts Judgment dated 27 October 2015 regarding Target Plus Scheme (TPS) 2004-09 in Civil Application No. 554 of 2006.

The revenue implication under the TPS arising from the Honble Supreme Courts Judgment is about Rs 2700 crore.

Benefit is being extended to all the applicant exporters eligible as per provisions of the initially notified TPS Scheme under FTP for the year 2005-06, and as per provisions of Foreign Trade Policy 2004-09 throughout the country.

The Target Plus Scheme (TPS) 2005-06 was already implemented partially. However, the claims which were denied as a result of retrospective Notification will be now settled as per direction of the Supreme Court in the CA No. 554 of 2006. The scheme has been discontinued w.e.f. 01.04.2006.

The claims will be considered as per original notifications till the date of the Notification No. 48 dated 20.02.2006 and Notification No. 8 dated 12.8.2006. The guidelines and modalities for processing the claims will be worked out by the DGFT HQs in consultation with Department of Revenue and is proposed to be completed in one year from the date of approval of the Cabinet.

The corrective measure will bring an end to multiple litigations with the Government and the claims under the TPS will be issued as per original provisions under Foreign Trade Policy in compliance with the decision of the Honble Supreme Court.

In the Civil Appeal No. 554/2006 titled DGFT v/s Kanak Exports & Ors., the Honble Supreme Court, in its Judgment dated 27.10.2015 gave verdict on the Target Plus Scheme for Export Promotion. It held that the Notification No. 48/2005 dated February 20, 2006 (certain products were made ineligible) and Notification No. 8/2006 dated June 12, 2006 (rates were reduced to 5% from the earlier 5, 10 and 15%) related to the Target Plus Scheme (TPS) could not be applied retrospectively and they would be effective only from the date of their issue.

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Cabinet approves setting up of Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE) at Visakhapatnam
Apr 12,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for setting up of Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE) at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh as an Institute of National Importance through an Act of Parliament. The Institute will have the governance structure as well as legal mandate to grant degrees in a manner similar to that enjoyed by IITs. A separate Act will also impart the required status to the Institute to become a Centre of Excellence in petroleum and energy studies.

The Cabinet has also approved Rs 655.46 crore as capital expenditure to set up IIPE and contribution of Rs 200 crore towards its Endowment Fund (in addition to a contribution of Rs 200 crore from Oil Companies towards the Endowment Fund).

As committed under the 13 Schedule of Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014, it has been decided to set up this Institute. The objective is to meet the quantitative and qualitative gap in the supply of skilled manpower for the petroleum sector and to promote research activities needed for the growth of the sector. The academic and research activities of IIPE will derive strength from the Institutes proximity to sector-related activities such as KG-Basin, Visakhapatnam refinery and the planned Petrochemical complex at Kakinada.

Andhra Pradesh Government has allocated 200 acres of land, free of cost, for setting up of IIPE at Sabbavaram Mandal in Visakhapatnam district. IIPE has been registered as a Society under the AP Society Registration Act, 2001 on 18/04/2016. A temporary campus of IIPE has been set up from academic session 2016-17 from the Andhra University Campus with two undergraduate programmes namely, Petroleum Engineering and Chemical Engineering (with capacity of 50 students each). IIT, Kharagpur has taken up the responsibility of mentoring the Institute.

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Cabinet approves measures to increase oil palm area and production in India
Apr 12,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved measures to increase oil palm area and production in India. These include:

i. Relaxation of land ceiling limit for oil palm cultivation under NMOOP (National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm).

The Cabinet approved relaxation in restrictions for providing assistance to more than 25 hectare area also under NMOOP to attract corporate bodies towards oil palm and derive maximum benefit of 100% FDI.

ii. Revision of norms of assistance under Mini Mission-II of NMOOP.

The Cabinet further gave its approval to revise the norms of assistance mainly for planting materials, maintenance cost, inter-cropping cost and bore-well to make oil palm plantations attractive.

The measures will yield following results:

. To encourage oil palm plantation on large scale by corporate bodies and to utilize wastelands. By relaxing restrictions under NMOOP, private entrepreneurs/cooperative bodies/joint ventures will show their interest in investment in oil palm plantation and availing the NMOOP support.

n++ To encourage farmers for oil palm cultivation in a bigger way. The revision of cost norms will motivate fanners for oil palm plantation.

Annual Action Plan (AAP) of the State / Agencies will be approved by Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare on revised cost norms. The private entrepreneurs/ cooperative bodies/ joint ventures will be invited by the respective state Governments for oil palm plantation in their state.

At present, the programme is being implemented in 12 States, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu. Mizoram, Odisha, Kerala, Telangana. Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland & Assam. Nearly 133 districts are under oil palm cultivation in these 12 states, However, all the potential states of Oil palm are covered under NMOOP.

There will be some financial implication in relaxing restrictions of area and up-scaling the norms of subsidies but the same would be accommodated within NMOOP fund. Therefore, no additional funds would be required.

At present, oil palm development programme is being promoted in individual farmers field. There is no scope to provide assistance directly to private entrepreneurs/Cooperative bodies/Joint ventures for large scale plantation. The waste land/degraded land/cultivable land in the oil palm growing states can be given on lease/rent or bought by private entrepreneurs/ cooperative bodies/ joint ventures for oil palm plantation. However, financial assistance under NMOOP is available for 25 hectare. Therefore, there is a need for relaxation of restrictions under NMOOP to attract corporate bodies towards oil palm and derive maximum benefit of 100% FDI. A combination of individual farming, contract farming and captive plantation (by relaxing land ceiling norms) can only boost oil palm cultivation in the country.

The norms of assistance for various interventions were decided on the basis of prevailing prices at the time of formulation of the NMOOP programme. In view of large investment towards the cost of planting material, digging of pits, planting, manuring, irrigation and maintenance of plantation for four years without any income, farmers particularly small and marginal have shown reluctance in taking up oil palm plantation. Besides, in North Eastern States, which have good potential for oil palm needs additional investment in land preparation being hilly terrain.

Edible Oil is an important component of household food basket. The total production of edible oil in the country is about 9 million MT. while the domestic requirement is around 25 million MT. The gap between demand and supply is being met through imports, which amounted to Rs 68000 crore in 2015-16 (Prov.). Palm oil contributes 70% of vegetable oil import and is one of the cheapest oil due to high productivity per hectare.

Oil Palm is one of the worlds most efficient crop in terms of yield of vegetable oil per ha and today it is largest source of vegetable oil in the world. Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Thailand and Columbia are the major oil palm producing countries. An average oil yield of 4-5 tonnes/ hectare has been recorded with oil palm against the highest oil yield of 1.3 tonnes/ hectare from rapeseed.

Government of India is promoting oil palm by implementing several programmes since 1986-87 and from 2014-15 through NMOOP. NMOOP aims to bring an additional area of 1.25 lakh hectare under oil palm cultivation by the end of 2016-17. The developmental efforts have resulted in area expansion under oil palm from 8585 hectare in-1991-92 to around 3 lakh hectare by the end of 2015-16. Similarly, production of fresh fruit bunches (FFBs) and crude palm oil (CPO) have increased from 21,233 ton and 1,134 ton respectively (1992-93) to 11,50,000 ton and 1,98,000 ton during the year 2014-15.

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Cabinet approves policy for Purchase Preference in all PSUs under Petroleum Ministry
Apr 12,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for Policy to provide Purchase Preference (linked with Local Content (PP-LC) in all Public Sector Undertakings under Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.

The Policy will be applicable for five years. A steering committee will be constituted to oversee implementation of the Policy and carry out annual review and recommend continuation of the policy from year to year basis.

Under the Policy, the targets of Local Content (LC) will be stipulated for certain oil and gas business activities. The manufacturers/ service providers who meet the local content targets and whose quoted price is within 10% of the lowest valid price bid would be eligible for purchase preference for a stipulated portion of the purchase order on matching such price.

The Policy is expected to encourage suppliers and service providers to progressively adopt Make in India practices and add value to their goods and services within the country.

The Policy will apply to all the Public Sector Enterprises and their wholly owned subsidiaries, Joint Ventures that have 51% or more equity by one or more Public Sector Enterprises, attached and subordinate offices of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

The Make in India initiative was launched by Prime Minister in September, 2014 as part of a wider set of nation-building initiatives devised to transform India into a global design and manufacturing hub. In tune with this campaign, the Government has decided to incentivize the growth in local content in goods and services while implementing oil and gas projects in India through a policy for providing Purchase Preference to the manufacturers/ service providers who meet the local content targets in oil and gas business activities.

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Cabinet approves setting up of a SPV for govt procurement of goods & services
Apr 12,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for the following:-

Setting up of a Special Purpose Vehicle to be called Government e-Marketplace (GeM SPV) as the National Public Procurement Portal as Section 8 Company registered under the Companies Act, 2013, for providing procurement of goods & services required by Central & State Government organizations. GeM SPV shall provide an end-to-end online Marketplace for Central and State Government Ministries / Departments, Central & State Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs & SPSUs), Autonomous institutions and Local bodies, for procurement of common use goods & services in a transparent and efficient manner.

DGS&D shall be wound up and cease its functions by 31 October 2017. In case it is not possible to wind up DGS&D by 31 October 2017, the Department may extend the date of closure with proper justification latest upto 31st March, 2018.

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Major ports of India register 6.79% traffic growth in FY2017
Apr 12,2017

The twelve major ports under the Ministry of Shipping handled a record 647.43 million tonnes (mt) of traffic in 2016-17, registering an annual growth rate of 6.79%, as against 4.32% last year. With this, these ports have out- performed private ports for the second consecutive year. The private ports have registered a traffic growth rate of 4% this year.

The top position in cargo handling was retained by Kandla Port that handled 105.44 mt of cargo, registering a growth of 5.39% over last year. This was followed by Paradip Port with 88.95 mt of cargo handled, and an impressive growth rate of 16.45%. Mumbai Port holds the third position with 63.05 mt of cargo handled and growth rate of 3.17%.

JNPT recorded highest ever handling of 4.50 million TEUs during 2016-17. The port owned terminal, JNPCT, achieved highest ever handling of 1.53 million TEUs during the year, registering a growth rate of 7.33%.

Iron-ore traffic attained the highest growth rate of 163.67%. Other miscellaneous and general cargo grew by 18.53% and POL products by 8.16%.

In terms of Operating Surplus too, the Major Ports have shown highest ever achievement in 2016-17. JNPT net surplus has crossed Rs. 1300 crore as against Rs. 1091 crore of 2015-16. Kandla Port posted its highest ever net surplus of Rs. 651 crore during 2016-17, an increase of 54.4% over last years profit of Rs 422 crore.

For the first time ever, JNPT raised Foreign Denominated Loan of US $400 million. It became the first major port to raise foreign currency loans. Kamarajar Port Limited (Ennore) is also in the process of raising USD $100 million foreign currency loan. This mode of financing at low interest rates and natural hedging has been followed in the Major ports for their infrastructure development for the first time.

The major ports have also recorded the highest ever capacity addition of 100.37 mt during 2016-17. The capacity of major ports during 2015-16 was 965.36 MTPA. This crossed 1065 MTPA during 2016-17.

In respect of development of port infrastructure, 56 projects have been awarded with a capacity of 103.52 MTPA against a target of 102 MTPA with an investment of Rs. 9490.51 crore during 2016-17.

The efficiency indicators in major ports are also improving steadily. During 2016-17, total turn-around time came down to 3.44 days as against 3.64 days during last year. Likewise, Average Output Per Ship Berthday has gone up to 14583 tonnes as against 13748 tonnes during last year.

Major Ports have been benchmarked to international standards. 116 initiatives were identified. Out of these, 70 initiatives have been implemented and remaining will be implemented by 2019. This has resulted in unlocking 80 MTPA capacity. Implementation of these initiatives would further improve the efficiency & productivity of the Major Ports.

Mumbai Port has become Home Port for cruise tourism. Asias largest passenger ship Genting Dream with a capacity of 3,400 guests anchored at Mumbai Port on 29th October, 2016. The ship also ferried 1,900 passengers from Mumbai to Singapore via Colombo. 51 cruise vessels have called at Mumbai Port during 2016-17. A total number of 158 Cruise vessels anchored at 5 Major Ports during 2016-17, registering an increase of 23% over 2015-16.

In addition to the outstanding performance of the ports, the Ministry has taken several initiatives. The dredging of Mumbai Channel and JNPT Channel phase - II has been awarded to increase draft upto 15 meters at an estimated cost of Rs. 1963.17 crore. Smart Port Industrial Cities are being developed at Paradip and Kandla, Master Plans for which have been finalised. Multi Modal Logistic Park is being set up in Paradip.

The Ministry of Shipping has initiated several Policy during the year. The New Captive Policy guidelines were issued in July, 2016 to ensure uniformity and transparency in the procedure for awarding captive facilities in the ports. This will allow concessionaire to handle non captive cargo upto 30% of the designed capacity of the berth.

The New Berthing Policy came into effect from August, 2016. This policy provides standardized framework for calculation of norms, specific to the commodity handled and infrastructure available on the berth. This will improve the efficiency at ports and productivity norms across ports.

The New Stevedoring Policy has been implemented since July, 2016. This will improve productivity, efficiency and safety in the ports.

The existing Model Concession Agreement of 2008 is under process of revision which will address the concerns of PPP projects and prevent them from getting stressed.

The Major Port Authorities Bill has been introduced in the Lok Sabha in December, 2016 to modernize the institutional structure of the ports to usher in professional governance in the ports.

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IIP declines 1.2% in February 2017
Apr 12,2017

Indias industrial production declined 1.2% in February 2017 over February 2016, snapping 3.3% growth recorded in January 2017. The manufacturing sectors production dipped 2% in February 2017, mainly contributing to the dip in industrial production. The mining output increased 3.3%, while the electricity generation rose 0.3% in February 2017.

In terms of industries, 15 out of the 22 industry groups in the manufacturing sector have shown negative growth during the month of February 2017 as compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

Industrial production rose 0.45% in April-February FY2017, compared with 2.61% growth in the corresponding period last year. The manufactured product sector output declined 0.3%, while the mining and electricity generation improved 1.6% and 4.6% in April-February FY2017.

As per the use-based classification, the basic goods output improved 2.4% in February 2017 over a year ago, while the output of capital goods declined 3.4%. The consumer goods output dipped 5.6%, while the output of intermediate goods also fell 0.2% in February 2017. Within consumer goods, the production of consumer durables declined 0.9%, while that of consumer non-durables plunged 8.6% in February 2017 over February 2016.

The IIP growth in January 2017 has been revised upwards to 3.3% in the first revision compared with 2.7% growth reported provisionally. Meanwhile, the growth in November 2016 has been revised marginally downwards to 5.6% at final revision.

The industry group Tobacco products has shown the highest negative growth of (-) 42.8% followed by (-) 21.7% in Food products and beverages and (-) 20.6% in Office, accounting and computing machinery. On the other hand, the industry group Electrical machinery & apparatus n.e.c. has shown the highest positive growth of 17.4% followed by 10.7% in Wearing apparel; dressing and dyeing of fur and 9.9% in Basic metals.

Some important items that have registered high negative growth include woollen carpets (-) 66.4%, plastic machinery including moulding machinery (-) 52.2%, ship building and repairs (-) 49.7%, sugar machinery (-) 47.8%, sugar (-) 41.6%, molasses (-) 39.0%, cigarettes (-) 37.7%, aluminium conductor (-) 29.3%, three-wheelers (including passenger and goods carrier) (-) 24.5% and leather garments (-) 22.0%.

Some important items showing high positive growth during the current month over the same month in previous year include cable, rubber insulated 241.2%, cement machinery 116.5%, electric sheets 90.1%, HR coils/ skelp 29.1%, antibiotics and its preparations 25.6%, biaxially oriented polypropylene bopp film 25.5% and stainless/ alloy steel 24.2%.

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CPI inflation rises to 3.81% in March 2017
Apr 12,2017

The all-India general CPI inflation increased to 3.81% in March 2017 (new base 2012=100), compared with 3.65% in February 2017. The corresponding provisional inflation rate for rural area was 3.75% and urban area 3.88% in March 2017 as against 3.67% and 3.55% in February 2017. The core CPI inflation rose marginally to 4.79% in March 2017 from 4.75% in February 2017.

The cumulative CPI inflation was lower at 4.52% in April-March FY2017 compared with 4.91% in April-March FY2016.

Among the CPI components, inflation of food and beverages increased to 2.54% in March 2017 from 2.39% in February 2017 mainly contributing to the rise in CPI inflation. Within the food items, the inflation increased for vegetables to (-) 7.24%, fruits 9.35%, milk and products 4.69%, prepared meals, snacks, sweets etc. 5.65%, egg 3.21% and cereals and products 5.38%. The inflation was flat for non-alcoholic beverages at 3.17%. On the other hand, inflation declined for pulses and products to (-) 12.42%, spices 2.99%, meat and fish 2.96% and sugar and confectionery 17.05% in march 2017.

The inflation for housing rose marginally to 4.96%, while that for miscellaneous items was flat at 4.78% in March 2017. Within the miscellaneous items, the inflation for personal care and effects eased to 4.52% and education 5.20%, while inflation rose for transport and communication to 6.04% in March 2017.

The inflation for clothing and footwear increased to 4.60% in March 2017, while the CPI inflation of fuel and light surged to 5.56% in March 2017.

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Trade recovery expected in 2017 and 2018, amid policy uncertainty: WTO
Apr 12,2017

The WTO is forecasting that global trade will expand by 2.4% in 2017; however, as deep uncertainty about near-term economic and policy developments raise the forecast risk, this figure is placed within a range of 1.8% to 3.6%. In 2018, the WTO is forecasting trade growth between 2.1% and 4%.

The unpredictable direction of the global economy in the near term and the lack of clarity about government action on monetary, fiscal and trade policies raises the risk that trade activity will be stifled. A spike in inflation leading to higher interest rates, tighter fiscal policies and the imposition of measures to curtail trade could all undermine higher trade growth over the next two years.

Weak international trade growth in the last few years largely reflects continuing weakness in the global economy. Trade has the potential to strengthen global growth if the movement of goods and supply of services across borders remains largely unfettered. However, if policymakers attempt to address job losses at home with severe restrictions on imports, trade cannot help boost growth and may even constitute a drag on the recovery, said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevn++do.

Although trade does cause some economic dislocation in certain communities, its adverse effects should not be overstated - nor should they obscure its benefits in terms of growth, development and job creation. We should see trade as part of the solution to economic difficulties, not part of the problem. In fact, innovation, automation and new technologies are responsible for roughly 80% of the manufacturing jobs that have been lost and no one questions that technological advances benefit most people most of the time. The answer is therefore to pursue policies that reap the benefits from trade, while also applying horizontal solutions to unemployment which embraces better education and training and social programmes that can quickly help get workers back on their feet and ready to compete for the jobs of the future, he said.

The WTOs more promising forecasts for 2017 and 2018 are predicated on certain assumptions and there is considerable downside risk that expansion will fall short of these estimates. Attaining these rates of growth depends to a large degree on global GDP expansion in line with forecasts of 2.7% this year and 2.8% next year. While there are reasonable expectations that such growth could be achieved, expansion along these lines would represent a significant improvement on the 2.3% GDP growth in 2016.

In 2016, the weak trade growth of just 1.3% was partly due to cyclical factors as economic activity slowed across the board, but it also reflected deeper structural changes in the relationship between trade and economic output. The most trade-intensive components of global demand were particularly weak last year as investment spending slumped in the United States and as China continued to rebalance its economy away from investment and toward consumption, dampening import demand.

Global economic growth has been unbalanced since the financial crisis, but for the first time in several years all regions of the world economy should experience a synchronized upturn in 2017. This could reinforce growth and provide an additional boost to trade.

Forward looking indicators, including the WTOs World Trade Outlook Indicator, point to stronger trade growth in the first half of 2017, but policy shocks could easily undermine positive recent trends. Unexpected inflation could force central banks to tighten monetary policy faster than they would like, undercutting economic growth and trade in the short-run. Other factors, such as the uncertainty provoked by the United Kingdoms withdrawal from the European Union could potentially have an effect. Meanwhile, the possibility of a rise in the application of restrictive trade policies could affect demand and investment flows, and cut economic growth over the medium-to-long term. In light of these factors, there is a significant risk that trade expansion in 2017 will fall into the lower end of the range.

The recovery of world trade this year and next is based on expected world real GDP growth at market exchange rates of 2.7% in 2017 and 2.8% in 2018. This GDP estimate assumes that developed economies maintain generally expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, and that developing economies continue to emerge from their recent slowdown. It should be noted that the WTO does not produce its own GDP forecasts, but rather uses consensus estimates based on a variety of sources including the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the United Nations, among others.

Historically, the volume of world merchandise trade has tended to grow about 1.5 times faster than world output, although in the 1990s it grew more than twice as fast. However, since the financial crisis, the ratio of trade growth to GDP growth has fallen to around 1:1. Last year marked the first time since 2001 that this ratio has dropped below 1, to a ratio of 0.6:1. The ratio is expected to partly recover in 2017, but it remains a cause for concern.

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1.86 lakh fair price shops installed PoS devices so far
Apr 11,2017

The Department of Food and Public Distribution has prepared guidelines for Fair Price Shop (FPS) automation, which have been shared with all States/UTs. FPS automation involves, installation of Point of Sale (PoS) devices at FPS for authentication of beneficiaries, recording of sales to beneficiaries at the FPS; and uploading of transaction data in central server. There are 5.26 lakh Fair Price Shops in the country out of which 1.86 lakh FPSs have been automated so far installing ePoS devices/mobile terminals across 22 States/UTs. A statement showing the total number of FPSs in each States/UTs including Andhra Pradesh and automation of FPSs is given below.

Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) is operated under the joint responsibility of the Central and State/UT Governments wherein operational responsibilities including the issuance of licenses to the Fair Price Shops (FPSs) rest with the concerned State/UT Governments.

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Food Processing Industries Minister emphasizes need to set up Integrated Cold Chain Projects for fast-tracking transformation of Indian economy
Apr 11,2017

Minister of Food Processing Industries Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal emphasized the need to set up Integrated Cold Chain Projects on war scale in the country for all-round development of India and for fast-tracking transformation of the Indian economy.

Smt. Badal said given the challenge of post-harvest losses which currently are Rs.92,000 crores annually, the facilities set up by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries like 42 Mega Food Parks and 234 Cold Chain Projects (including 101 newly sanctioned Cold Chain Projects) have created preserving and processing capacity of 139 lakh Metric Tonnes of Agro Produce with a value of Rs.35,000 crores which means that setting up of these Cold Chain Projects and Mega Food Parks already undertaken would reduce post harvest losses substantially. She said apart from reducing wastage, the projects will generate employment for 3.5 lakh persons and benefit 15 lakh farmers.

The Minister also informed about the steps being taken by the Ministry to build a strong, efficient and integrated supply chain for agri-produce involving backward linkages with the farm, processing to add value to the farmers produce and creation of forward linkages through organised modern retail.

Formulation and implementation of a National Food Processing Policy is also under consideration of the Ministry. The vision of the Policy is to position India as a World Food Factory by creating an enabling framework for the sustainable growth of the food processing industry. The Policy is based on the principle of inclusive growth in partnership with the States with the overarching goal of providing remunerative return to farmers. The model Food Processing Policy focuses development of clusters based on production strength of different region to enable a targeted and coordinated approach for developing the food processing industry and bringing down wastages. As a step in this direction, the Ministry proposes to undertake mapping of areas of fruits &vegetables and other perishable production in different States with the target to set up agro processing clusters.

To achieve the vision of National Food Processing Policy, the Ministry will be shortly launching a revamped National Mission on Food Processing called SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Produce Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) to complete the on-going Mega Food Parks, take up more cold chain and also to launch 3 new schemes - Creation/Expansion of Food Processing and Preservation Capacities, New Agro-Processing Clusters and Backward and Forward Linkages.

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